Like with any business, there are 5 key principles that will set you apart from your competition if you want to be successful with your social media. The game may have changed but the rules are still the same.
Identify – It is important to understand that before you even begin, you need to know who your target market is. Now this is not just the basics of age, sex, location, income etc but more about what makes your target market tick. What are the characteristics of target market, how to they behave, what will make them take action? Ultimately the point of your social media is to engage and to do that you have to know how to speak the right language and to do that you need to know in depth knowledge about your customer base. Otherwise your messages are going to fall short or miss the mark all together. Even though you may have identified that women between the ages of 25-54 with an average income of $65,000 pa are your market, your communication may not connect with them and all your efforts will be largely lost.
Locate – Next is to be able to locate this target market online, what social media channels best suit them. Just because Facebook is the largest, it doesn’t necessarily make it the most effective. With so much communication Facebook is great losing its cut through to the end user for businesses trying to get their message heard. So on top of having the right message you also now need to think about if it is even being heard. Torrents of messages from friends, businesses and others are constantly streaming to people walls and in boxes and without investment in advertising Facebook is becoming increasingly difficult to get any ROI. So perhaps Pinterest or YouTube may be better or, dare I say it, a good old fashioned email. Yes email is a social network albeit very sterile, it is a form of communication that can be shared and forwarded. Many believe that mail is making resurgence due to its cut through to the end user, allowing them to make a decision and not be confused with other social media messages.
Infiltrate – Once you located and defined your target market you can then start to infiltrate them through engaging and informative content that leaves them with the subtle feeling that “this business understands me and my needs”. This infiltration process is what breaks down the walls of distrust and opens the doors of trust. To become a knowledge base in your industry will encourage users to stop and listen to what you have to say, to comment, to share and to interact and that is what makes social media so important. I am more likely to use the services of a referral from someone I trust.
Educate – The process of engaging with your target market is the process of education. Why should I believe you? Why should I use your services and not someone else’s? Why should I trust you? How do I know you know what you are doing and what my needs are? Social media allows you to do this by not only allowing you to deliver your message to people who want to listen but also by the sharing of your content with other who may want or need your products or services.
Convert – Finally once all the previous steps are in place your target market are in the prime place for you to convert them. Your message is clear, you are contacting them in the right place and they are in need of the product or services you offer and you are someone who they can trust that knows what they are doing. All these pieces now fit together and the conversion process becomes relatively simple as they have been given the opportunity to engage with you without being sold to. This is fundamentally what is so attractive about social media as a form of business.
Now all this doesn’t happen overnight. Too many people believe that social media is an event when in fact it is a journey. If you expect to see the results straight away then you don’t understand how to be sociable and you probably lack social skills yourself. An analogy I like to use when I describe this is as follows. When you go to a networking event or a party you are not likely to know anyone and in some cases you may not know anyone at all. Let’s assume you know no one, you don’t go in there and suddenly expect to magically know everyone, you have to take your time to walk the room and introduce yourself, you tell people about yourself and you find out about them. Some people will like you and some won’t, some will remember you and some won’t but it didn’t happen by clicking your fingers and neither does it happen by clicking your mouse button. In fact you will likely have to attend to multiple events and parties before people remember you depending on how well you engaged with them.
So remember the 5 principles of Social Media are just like meeting people in real life, you need people to warm to you and build relationships with them before you can expect them to want to know more about you and to use your services.